To buy organic or not? This is always a topic of argument and a lot stems down to the financial cost and whether there is that much difference in the nutritional content.
Firstly, lets look at the financial cost of organic produce
With none to minimal synthetic pesticides, hormones and chemical sprays, this means: –
- more time and money employing staff to weed and remove pests.
- higher crop losses and shorter storage time;
- crop rotations undertaken to prevent weed growth and maintain nutrient rich top soil levels. If it isn’t in the soil, it isn’t in our food.
- slower production rate than conventional farmers;
- Organic Certifications required and not cheap. They are met with certain strict standards to be maintained daily;
- organic feed for livestock and providing a higher standard of living to reduce use of antibiotics;
- although demand is growing rapidly, organic farmers produce less overall. Conventional farmers keep costs down producing larger quantities.
So yes, the cost of growing organic produce is far higher than conventional. At this point, you are probably thinking well that may justify the higher cost in producing it but I still can’t afford to buy it. What if I told you that you could? Let’s come back to that.
What about the health benefits of eating organic produce?
There are several documented benefits in relation to the consumption of organic produce and human health, including:
- higher levels of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are a must for good health;
- somewhat higher omega-3 fatty acid concentrations in meat and dairy. This is the “good” fats; and
- less exposure to pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
Consumption of organic produce may also reduce the risk of certain acute diseases, allergies and obesity. Ultimately, there are more nutrients and less toxins going in.
What I do find most concerning however, is our conventional methods in the meat and dairy industry. In particular, the use of antibiotics and hormones used to grow livestock faster in order to keep up with demand. Research shows this to be a huge factor in today’s antibiotic resistance. As a whole, we really need to look at the quality and quantity of meat and dairy consumption, not only for our health but for the health of the planet… but that’s for another blog!
So how can I afford organic produce then?
There are many ways you can cut the cost of organic food and in fact, sometimes it is cheaper than buying conventional!
- Get to know your local farmers at the markets. Sometimes they have great wholesale bargains.
- Have a look at local providers. For example, those local to me we have Market Organics (Saturday specials), Sherwood Road Organic Meats (Saturday specials) and Rawsome Produce. I bought organic blueberries for $0.50c a punnet the other week and a huge bag of organic bananas for $1 a kilo!
- Look at alternative options such as spray free. Some farmers are too small to bear the cost of organic certification but are happy to show you what they use in their farming.
- There are also plenty of online organic retailers or buy up groups offering great discounts.
- Grow your own produce such as herbs or cherry tomatoes! It can give you a great sense of appreciation.
- Only go organic on fruits and vegetables with the most chemical residue or edible skin such as berries, spinach, apples, grapes, potatoes, pears and tomatoes. Not everything has to be organic.
When choosing organic produce, you not only look after you and your family’s health, but it is also better for our planet.
Above all, we live in a very fortunate country with easy access to so many nutrient rich foods. Be practical choosing organic when you can and if you honestly can afford it. That being said, don’t be discouraged from eating conventional produce, it is still far better for us than eating processed foods. If you are concerned about pesticides, the best way to remove is to wash in solution of one part vinegar, three parts waters.